The National Basketball Association plans to build a facility near Beijing that will feature indoor courts, shopping and dining as it seeks to bolster the sport’s popularity in the world’s second-biggest economy.
The 12,000 square meter “NBA Center” will be constructed with Chinese developer Yatai Lanhai Investment Group between Beijing and the neighboring port city of Tianjin, according to a statement. It will include an NBA-themed restaurant, an interactive games area and a store selling team apparel.
Rising incomes in China have made it the world’s biggest market for products ranging from cars to personal computers. In addition to NBA apparel and the licensing of games, China’s domestic basketball league has also become a destination for former NBA players including Stephon Marbury and Tracy McGrady.
The NBA Center will be a free-standing facility located within Yatai Lanhai’s 2,300-acre development named New Water Town, which is designed to accommodate 150,000 residents, according to the statement. The facility is expected to begin operations in 2015, the NBA said.
The league, which set up its China unit in 2008, currently employs more than 100 people in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei, according to the NBA. Pre-season games between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers are being held in Beijing and Shanghai this week. After those matches, the NBA will have held 13 games in China since 2004.